The Government appeared to have scored a big win in its controversial efforts to use civil servants’ salaries to shore up its finances and aid the economy’s post-pandemic recovery.
Less than a week after its launch, the Barbados Optional Savings Scheme (BOSS) has garnered tremendous interest from public servants, Prime Minister Mia Mottley today revealed.
Merely five days after BOSS was announced, one union has already reported that over 90 per cent of its members are willing to invest in the Government bonds being offered on a portion of their pay cheques, she said.
She touted BOSS’ success as she opened a round of meetings with civil servants at the Wildey Gymnasium to share details of the BOSS which was officially launched last Thursday.
Flanked by representatives from the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the National Union of Public Workers’ (NUPW), Mottley maintained that as expected, the scheme was attracting much attention.
Mottley said: “With one of your other sister unions they have already indicated for example that 92 per cent of their membership will take the bonds.
“We expect that will vary from association to association and for want of a better phrase from ministry to ministry, but because of the commitment of credit unions, pensioners and other Barbadians, we are satisfied that there is a market that is full for it.”
President of the National Union of Public Workers’ (NUPW) Akanni McDowall told Barbados TODAY that some members of the union were already in favour of the BOSS programme.
However, he said the scheme was yet to be presented to the majority of its membership.
“We met with the Executive Committee, National Council and the shop stewards and of all three groups there was positive feedback. What we have to do now is meet with our general members to hear what they decide on the BOSS programme,” McDowall said.
Only a few people were in attendance at the Gymnasium, but some of them praised BOSS as a “fantastic and amazing” initiative.
One social worker who did not identify herself urged Barbadians to “think about their brothers and sisters” and to invest in the scheme.
She said: “This is a really amazing, amazing plan. A boss plan as it is called. I am happy as a public servant to be able to make a commitment. It is really hard to say that we all have disposable income because we really don’t, but when I think about what this plan will do and how it will help my brothers and sisters, how it will help my family, I have no choice.
“Even though I don’t have a lot of fiscal space I will find some money. I will find money because as a social worker I understand the deprivation, I understand the hardship that is out there.
“And I am very happy that Government came up with a programme that will give me the opportunity to invest my money and to help save.”
She advised fellow public workers to ignore negative messages about the BOSS.
But another public servant who also hailed the initiative, disagreed with banks and credit unions being able to benefit equally by purchasing bonds.
He said: “This bond is a fantastic instrument for public sector workers. It is probably the first time in the history of the public service that you had at your disposal a financial instrument to invest in and really the leadership should have come from those responsible for the labour movement to give us encouragement to invest in this bond.
“This is a programme for the public sector worker. And for banks or credit unions to go in and get the same five per cent it may defeat the economic enfranchisement that you were referring to.”
A female worker who commended BOSS as an effort to save jobs and stimulate the economy.
“I am glad that persons who may not be able to keep the full percentage of the bond that they have the option to at least convert a part of that bond into cash,” she said.
Today’s three sessions featured public servants from Government departments and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
A further three sessions will be held on Wednesday. [email protected]
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